Culture Insider: Shangsi Festival | Updated: 2021-04-14 07:10
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Women wearing traditional Chinese costumes participate in ancient customs of spring outing and drifting cups at Jiuxi, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on April 17, 2018. [Photo/IC]

The calligrapher Wang Xizhi from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 317 - 420) wrote in his Lanting Xu (Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion) about how literary men took a bath and composed poetry while drinking from cups left adrift and bobbing along the winding river.

In the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 - 907), it is said the emperor would treat his followers beside the river, along with ordinary people enjoying drinks and sightseeing. People in the Chang'an area would also watch cricket-fighting.

After the Ming and Qing dynasties (AD 1368 - 1911), the ritual activities were gradually omitted, and the festival developed into a spring outing featuring lively activities like drifting cups, drifting eggs, drifting dates, stone throwing, wearing willow-wreaths, hiking and eating glutinous rice and listening to choir music.

As Shangsi Festival happens so close to Qingming Festival, many young people today only know about the latter.

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